Omar Waraich: The only people who want Musharraf back are his enemies

Analysis

Share
Related Topics

The contrast could scarcely have been more striking.

When Pervez Musharraf entered politics in 1999, he was an army chief, seizing power in a bloodless coup. Now Pakistan's former military ruler is reduced to making a feeble second attempt thousands of miles away in London, to barely a hall full of people.

Deploying his characteristically brusque tones, Mr Musharraf said there was a need to "bring all patriotic people under one flag, that flag should be the All Pakistan Muslim League." The reference was the name of his new party, one he had to assemble after his supporters in Pakistan deserted him. Mr Musharraf said that he would return to Pakistan, with the same uneasy insistence with which he used to claim he would never leave.

Mr Musharraf boasted he remains popular in Pakistan and stood a chance at returning to the presidency. "Illusion," observed Oscar Wilde, "is the first of all pleasures." That at least is how many Pakistanis regarded yesterday's launch. After nearly nine years in power, he has left behind bitter memories of military rule, once-loyal generals and politicians keen to distance themselves from his legacy, and charges ranging from political assassination to stoking extremism – even high treason for violating the constitution.

Few think he will return. "Musharraf will remain away from Pakistan for many years," said a senior Western diplomat. His former interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, agreed: "He has no political base here. He won't be able to move around because of the security risk. Even the programme he's offering is what he said he'd do in power. He failed then, he has no chance now."

Excitable television news channels resisted treating the launch as a serious event. Some ran montages recalling his taste for the good life. Others interviewed opponents who vented a litany of criticisms.

"There's one thing to be army chief in Pakistan and another to enter politics as an ex-general," said former cricket legend Imran Khan. "Gen Musharraf will notice that difference if he does return."

That's not to say Pakistanis are not looking forward to Mr Musharraf, if for the reasons that will keep him away. The Baluch leaders want him tried for the 2006 assassination of Akbar Bugti. In the southern province of Sindh, supporters of the slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto have questions about his failure to provide adequate security, as outlined in the UN's report.

In the Punjab, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would like him tried for "high treason" for the 1999 coup and imposing a state of emergency in November 2007. And in the northwest, he is blamed for allowing militancy to mushroom though deals with the Taliban.

"He's united the country," said Talat Hussain, a senior journalist. "But it's united against him."

One person who may smile on the prospect of Mr Musharraf returning is President Asif Ali Zardari, as it would divert hostile attention from his struggling government.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Critics of Fiona Woolf say she should step down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up  

Fiona Woolf resignation: As soon as she became the story, she had to leave

James Ashton
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities